Authorities at Air Canada announced on Tuesday, February 25, that it would extend the suspension of flights to and from Beijing and Shanghai amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The suspension is to remain in effect until at least Friday, April 10. Due to decreased demand, flights from Toronto to Hong Kong will also remain suspended until at least Thursday, April 30. The company's non-stop Vancouver-Hong Kong flights will accommodate customers originally booked on its Toronto-Hong Kong flights.
The Canadian Border Services Agency stated on Wednesday, January 22, that it has implemented screening measures for travelers entering Canada. The measures only entail additional questioning for incoming travelers to verify whether they have visited Wuhan or other cities affected by the outbreak. The affected airports are Toronto (YYZ), Montreal (YUL), and Vancouver (YVR) international airports.
As of Wednesday, February 26, there are 11 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in more than 30 countries and territories worldwide. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Individuals who plan to travel to or have recently returned from China, particularly Hubei province, are advised to monitor the situation and anticipate additional security checks at the airport.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
- If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
- Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments
In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, individuals are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.
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